A. Lozovsky

In the R.I.L.U.

Results of the Third Session of the
Central Council of the R.I.L.U.

(13 September 1923)

From International Press Correspondence, Vol. 3 No. 60 [30], 13 September 1923, p. 668.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2023). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

The Central Council devoted its main attention to practical organization questions of the international trade union movement. The congresses hitherto held have shown what is to be done, but how the resolutions adopted are to be actually realized can only be taught by experience, and it must be admitted that during this period we have gained wide experience in every sphere of the labor movement. That which was merely a slogan a short time ago has now become a living reality, and we are now confronted by the task of further developing the methods for the conquest of the masses. The most important questions occupying the last session of the Central Council were: united front, attitude towards reformist and anarchist pacifism, strike strategy, the national question in the trade union movement, combatting of Fascism, labor emigration, the problem of the factory councils, the conversion of craft unions into industrial unions, organization of the trade unions in the colonial and semi-colonial countries, the relations to the craft internationals and the tasks of the International Propaganda Committee, the relations to the Amsterdam international, the organizatory development of the opposition, work amongst women and youth, representation of the R.I.L.U., information and communications, trade union press and trade union literature, tactics of the adherents of the R.I.L.U. in Spain, activity of the Trade Union Educational League in America, fight against the split in the trade unions, fight against the sabotaging of the decisions of the International Conference of Transport Workers, opposition tactics in the German trade unions, the League in Czecho-Slovakia, etc. This mere enumeration of the questions dealt with shows the mighty growth of the revolutionary trade union movement, and it is a particularly characteristic feature of the present position of the R.I.L.U. that concrete practical answers had to be given to every question.

The present stage of development in the R.I.L.U. is determined by the raising and debating of the question of strike strategy.

So far as I am aware, no international congress has ever occupied itself with this question. It is true that even before the war there were discussions on the political strike, but no attitude has ever been adopted, from the standpoint of the general class strategy of the masses, towards the economic strikes and conflicts of the working class. Despite the extremely extensive experience gained in strike movements, we have not penetrated far into the question of strike strategy. And yet, when everything which we have gained in the way of experience in this respect during the last twenty to thirty years is given due consideration, we are in a position to draw extremely interesting conclusions of a general strategic nature. If we draw comparisons between the amount of matter written on the methods of conducting war, and that written on the methods of conducting strikes, an amazing contrast is revealed, thousands and thousands of volumes have been devoted to the art of war; every country has its military schools occupied in studying past wars in the interests of a more adequate organization of the next; there are countless specialists studying the technical, social economic and political lessons of the latest struggles; in every country there are thousands of textbooks enabling any one to become familiar with the fundamental problems of strategy. And what auxiliaries have we at our disposal in the sphere of the economic conflicts between capital and labor? The great conflicts are scarcely studied at all, the experiences gained in the struggle are not utilized. Everything new and creative brought forth by the the working class in its struggle with capital is passed over without observation. It is not only that there are no academies placing these questions on their syllabus, but the mere idea of publishing textbooks dealing with strike strategy has not yet occurred to anybody. Is the struggle of 1,200,000 English miners, which shook all England for thirteen weeks at a stretch,—is this mighty collision between two classes of less significance than the battles of Sadowa or Mukden? And if such class struggles are of great significance, why are they not universally studied, why is the experience to be drawn from these struggles not made common property? Because the labor movement did not become international in action until the last four years, because the internationalization of the working class struggle did not commence until the C.I. and the R.I.L.U. came into existence. The moment has only just arrived for taking up the united economic struggle, and for undertaking the systematic study of the extensive but hitherto scattered experiences of the international strike movement. The Central Council has done excellent service in bringing up this complicated question and in facing it despite being aware that many years of work will be required before even so much can be accomplished in this direction as has already been long accomplished in the science of war.

Among all the questions dealt with by the Central Council, I have selected the one which was not definitely answered in the form of a resolution. I have done this with the object of showing what gigantic tasks—in the truest sense of the word—are facing us. The R.I.L.U. does not shrink front the complexity and difficulty of these tasks for everyone in contact with the international trade union movement feels the daily growth of the revolutionary movement. It is not always easy for us to express this growth in figures, but that the process of the radicalization of the masses is going forward continuously is admitted today even by the Amsterdamers. During the last session of the Central Council every participator felt distinctly that the R.I.L.U. has become an international organization, and that the organizational content established between its separate national sections, has been mightily strengthened and extended. No doubt many years will have to pass before the R.I.L.U. has won over the millions of workers organized in the reformist trade unions, and the still greater i masses of unorganized workers. Much water will have flowed under the bridge before the R.I.L.U. will have a secure ideological and organizational foothold, for the difficulties to be overcome are too great, the influence of bourgeois ideology on the proletarian masses is too great. We do not know how many years we shall need. But we do know, without a shadow of doubt, that with every day we come nearer to unity, that every congress, every conference, is one step further on the road to the creation of the leading fighting organ of the international trade union movement. The last session of the Central Council justifies our looking forward into the future with healthy optimism.

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